Wrap-up: Dolphins 17, Rams 14
October, 14, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 17-14 defeat to the Miami Dolphins on the road in Week 7:
What it means: The Rams can function well enough to win offensively even without injured top receiver Danny Amendola, but they still have to do the little things well to win, particularly on the road. Penalties, turnovers, a blown coverage and missed field goals will doom most visiting teams. The Rams were no exception Sunday despite a 294-100 edge in first-half yardage.
What I liked: The Rams ran the ball and stopped the run with much greater efficiency than seemed likely against this opponent. The Dolphins had led the NFL in rushing yards allowed, both overall and by carry. They also ranked eighth in rushing yards gained. No matter. The Rams built a 147-4 lead in rushing yardage at one point deep into the second half.
Quarterback Sam Bradford made impressive throws. His aggressive, accurate pass to tight end Lance Kendricks for a 23-yard gain right before halftime seemed to drop over the linebacker's helmet with only inches to spare. That was a gutsy throw delivered without hesitation. Bradford threw accurately to convert a fourth-down pass as St. Louis, trailing 17-6 at the time, drove for a touchdown. Bradford capped the drive with a 1-yard scoring run on a sneak, then brought the Rams within three points with a conversion pass delivered while scrambling to his right.
What I didn't like: Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein missed from 52 and 37 yards in the first half after making every attempt previously this season. Those misses contributed to the Rams trailing at halftime despite their statistical dominance. Down 17-14 in the final seconds, Bradford inexplicably took a sack on third down. Zuerlein then missed a 66-yard try as time expired. Bradford cannot take a sack in that situation. Bad play by him. Zuerlein had made from 60 yards this season and would have had a better chance Sunday if Bradford hadn't taken the sack.
Penalties against the offensive line and tight end Matthew Mulligan set back the Rams. Some were understandable given the difficult matchups St. Louis faced while playing three backups on the line against a talented defensive front. I kept thinking how much better Bradford will look once the Rams' current leadership has had time to upgrade its offensive line. Bradford fared pretty well under the circumstances, but the penalties still hurt.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins and fullback Brit Miller fumbled during special-teams returns. The Dolphins recovered Miller's fumble. Receiver Chris Givens was fortunate officials used replay to overturn another apparent fumble. Jenkins and Givens are talented rookies. They're big contributors for the Rams. There will be some growing pains. The hope here, from the Rams' viewpoint, is that both learned lessons Sunday.
What's next: The Rams, 3-0 at home this season, face the Green Bay Packers at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 7.